How to play the harmonica, diatonic or chromatic

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By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy , Privacy Policy , and our Terms of Service. It only takes a minute to sign up. I have a chromatic harmonica tuned to the key of C, with a slide that raises each note by one half step. On it, you can play a major triad.

I won't go into all the details - if you're going to answer this question, you probably already know how it works. I'm wondering if some chromatic harmonica expert can tell me if and how it's possible to play a C Minor Triad for example on this chromatic? Is there perhaps a technique I can use to lower the pitch of the E to Eb while blowing a C triad? No there isn't. For minor key chord stuff people tend to play chromatic harmonicas in D minor or Eb minor and in that sense they become partially diatonic instruments.

Harmonica For Dummies, 2nd Edition

I saw a video the other day that I now can't find, of Jason Ricci playing a chromatic live rare! That is to say, he approached the instrument as you would expect , in a diatonic fashion. Chromatic harmonicas are fully chromatic, but only for single note playing. In addition to that, the note layout does favour some keys over others. Interestingly enough, the easiest keys are those with a closest relationship to the "key" of the chromatic, OR the key a semitone up, so on a C chromatic C sharp and G sharp are exceptionally easy keys which is unusual to say the least!

The chromatic harmonica wasn't designed from the ground up as a chromatic instrument, but rather an existing diatonic layout used to play major melodies was used, and a slide mechanism added on top of that.

Christmas 12222

This means that what you have, in effect, is a solo tuned C major diatonic harmonica that also shifts up a semitone or, if you like, a Db major one that also shifts down. In a way though, that's part of its charm: each key has its own "feeling", much like on many other modern chromatic wind instruments, or indeed the piano for that matter.

Beginner blues chromatic harmonica for diatonic players (Harmonica Hacks #4)

Some players prefer to play with the chromatic tuned in diminished triads, as this makes it more "key neutral". Other think this adds very little, and loses you the chords and double stops that you do have: it's a matter of preference. For further reading I suggest you check out what Pat Missin and Brendan power have to say about chromatic harmonica tunings, their benefits and their limitations.

Also, if you have a chromatic harmonica at your disposal, make sure you learn all of Stevie Wonder's repertoire. But I guess that goes without saying.

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Pretty sure you can't. Blow gives C major orC major. Draw gives G9 as the full chord - orG 9.

Diatonic vs. Chromatic Harmonica

Enclose it, to form a tight cup. Optimally, this cup should create a large resonating space. Since there are various variants of a chromatic harmonica, there are also quite a few variants for holding a chromatic. One is a variation of the same technique used in holding a diatonic, but the right thumb would be used to work the slide button.

Learn the Chromatic Harmonica – improvise in all 12 keys!

The other popular variant is quite similar:. Using your left hand, place the harmonica somewhere around the left of your center with the thumb, index and middle fingers. Twist your right hand along the wrist so that your fingers point to a two o'clock position and your palm is facing up. Place your right palm at the bottom of the harmonica, and wrap all your fingers except the index fingers around it.

If this is done correctly, your right wrist will form a right angle. Your index finger should touch the slide button, keep it always there, notwithstanding whether you use the button or not. If you own a hole variant, hold it in a similar manner, except set your cup closer to the center. Alternatively, you can break up the cup. There are two methods of playing the harp; the Pucker method and the tongue blocking method. Both methods of playing are accurate, neither is more acceptable than the other although blues guys tend to favour tongue blocking for a traditional blues style.

When you become more experienced, you should be able to switch comfortably between the two. There are lots of videos on you tube that can help with these techniques that a lot of beginner blues harp players find useful. Puckering is the common way to begin playing. It involves narrowing your lips to get a single note. A lot of new students learn this method first, and it is certainly the easiest way of the two approaches to tackle blow and draw bends.

To pucker, with a quick lick, ensure your lips are, purse your lips as you would do when whistling, this would create an aperture. Relax your lips and loosen up slightly. Use the tip of your tongue to locate the hole you want to play and then apply your pucker right around the harp.

Also Available Digitally

Get stuck in. To play, exhale gently and push from your diaphragm; Inhale gently, pulling from your chest and diaphragm. It is okay if you hear more than one note at first, however, work on playing individual holes. Keep practicing, listening and learning to adjust your pucker until you can narrow down the sound. If puckering comes to you naturally, blocking would take a lot of time to. It is, however, ideal to learn blocking if you wish to get that big tone and to give your sound a chunky quality.

Tongue slapping, chord and rhythm accompaniment, fluttering, octaving and a lot of other great effects becomes available once you crack this method and essential for blues harmonica, but be warned it is a skill that takes a lot of time, years in most cases. You need to think of blow and draw as inhale and exhale to get magnificent tones when you play the harmonica. You do not puff at a harmonica; instead, you exhale through it.

You also do not suck air through a harmonica; you inhale through it. Like singing, all good harmonica notes come from the diaphragm. Never overdraw or over blow when playing!

A lot of beginners often go overboard and put too much air into it. Playing a harmonica really doesn't need a lot of air to get a great sound. The harmonica responds well to very minimal amount of air movements. If you want more volume than the harmonica naturally provides, instead of blowing harder to get it, get a microphone and amplifier. Like guitars, you can play a harmonica by following a tablature. This helps reduce the number of notes on a single sheet of music to a system of holes and breath pattern that is very easy-to-follow. Tablature is useful for playing larger chromatic harmonicas as well, but it differs somewhat from diatonic tablature, and is less familiar.

All though there are a few options of displaying tabs the most common version which is easier for the beginner harmonica player to pick up is arrows being used to mark breathing. An upward pointing arrow symbolizes a breath out while a downward pointing arrow symbolizes a breath in and when a bend is required to achieve the correct note there is a kink in the arrow. Numbers, from the lowest tone to the highest are used to mark the holes. Hence, up 1 and down are the lowest two notes. While the highest note is a down 10 on a hole harmonica.

Most notes on a standard hole harmonica are overlapped, notably the down 2 and up 3 notes.

Types of Harmonicas

This is essential as it allows proper range for playing scales. Bending is unquestionably the blues harmonica technique. You lose half of the harmonica's expressive capacity without bending; the cries, the moans and the wails, remember nothing sounds more like the human voice than the cry of a humble harmonica. Bending is a way of making use of your tongue, palate and throat to change the INTERNAL configuration of your mouth, this is so you can apply pressure to the air stream in such a way that lowers the pitch of a note. Draw bends are possible on a diatonic harmonica on holes 1 through 6 while blow bends are possible on holes 7 through A lot of people that pick up the harmonica never figure out this essential technique that allows them to play with great soul and feeling.

The following tips are for producing draw bends on the major diatonic harmonica. It is recommended that you use just the 4-hole draw for now, this is because it is the easiest to get started on. Keep it in mind that the goal in bending is to change your airflow and the pattern of your vocal cavity so that you change the flow of air over the reeds, this in turn changes the way that they vibrate. On the hole number 4, simply draw the note, thinking and feeling how the air moves over your tongue and into the back roof of you mouth. Now, think about dragging this channel of air into your stomach.

To do this lower your tongue down and to the back, as you breath in you should feel the air move into your stomach, as this happens the pitch should lower.